The Warrior Life With Justin Mirigliani
There is no doubt that hockey players are some of the toughest athletes in the world. How many people can have their teeth knocked out or their faces sliced from a skate one minute and the next be racing around a sheet of ice chasing a rock solid piece of rubber? Brian Propp is one of those people. The Propper thrilled Flyers fans for over 10 years with his high skill and hardnosed hockey. His career accomplishments rank him among some of the greatest left wings in the history of hockey. His Flyers scoring totals of 369 goals, 480 assists and 849 points rank him third on the Flyers all-time scoring list. His 20 shorthanded goals and his plus-311 rating, as a Flyer, prove that Propp was no one trick pony. Propp was a great player in all zones, not just in the offensive one.
Like all hockey players Propp had his share of injuries, the most significant of which came during the 1986-87 season when he blew out his knee and missed 27 games. That season the Flyers staged an epic battle against the Wayne Gretzky led Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Flyers lost in 7 games, but Propp played the greatest hockey of his life in those playoffs and set a Flyers record with 28 playoff points.
Over the years I have gotten to know Propper and I consider him a friend. He was there with help when I started my charity four years ago. September of 2015 was a very difficult time for me. I was preparing to undergo the removal of my large intestine due to a severely precancerous condition. Little did anyone know that that same month Propp was facing a very serious health crisis as well. During a weekend family getaway, Propp suffered a severe stroke. The stroke knocked him off of his feet causing him to lose some teeth. He was rushed to the hospital where the stroke was diagnosed. In a flash, this great athlete had severely limited movement on his right side and he lost his ability to speak. But like any hockey player, he fought back from adversity. He spent a month in Magee Rehabilitation Hospital, in Philadelphia, where he relearned how to walk and speak again. Amazingly, in less than a year Propper was not only walking and talking, he was back on the ice, playing hockey!
When Propper played professional hockey, he was on a mission. His mission was to win. Today Propp is still on a mission. That mission is to share his story in the hopes of saving others from the terrible stroke he suffered. Propp’s stroke was caused by Atrial fibrillation or A-fib. Affecting over 2 million people in America, A-fib is the most common type of irregular heartbeat. It reduces the heart’s ability to pump blood into the ventricles. Sometimes there are no symptoms with A-fib and the only way a person finds out they have it is during an EKG. Other times there are symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, fatigue, dizziness, faintness, shortness of breath and more. A-fib is a serious health condition that requires medical attention. If it is not treated, it can cause heart failure, kidney problems and blood clots. The blood clots can travel from the heart to the brain causing stroke. That is what happened to Propp.
Always being one to help others, Propp is doing all he can to get the word out about how to deal with A-fib and how to prevent stroke. One way to prevent strokes from A-fib is to make sure to get A-fib under control. Medications called anticoagulants such as Warfarin, Eliquis, Xarelto and Pradaxa can help reduce the chance of stroke. There are also medicines called antiarrhythmics that help those with A-fib return to a regular heart rhythm.
On a personal note, Propper was one of my boyhood heroes, today he is a friend. There is one story that will illustrate exactly who Brian and his wife Kris are. Brian had his stroke in early September of 2015. My surgery was scheduled for September 24, 2015. At the time of my surgery, Brian was going through his extremely demanding rehabilitation. Kris, who was a rock for Brian, was, I am sure, fighting through terrible sadness watching Brian struggle. Despite all of their struggles and pain, Kris texted my wife, Amy, to let her know that she and Brian wished me luck and asked her to let them know how my surgery went. I think that is a testament to what kind of people they are. They are always thinking of others, even when they have every reason in the world to be thinking about themselves.
I am pretty sure that if Propper’s story can save lives, he would look at the terrible stroke that struck him as a blessing rather than a curse. Many times when you meet a hero, especially a childhood hero, you are let down because they are not what you expected them to be. In the case of Brian Propp that is not an issue. Please share this podcast, it may save a life!
By Justin Mirigliani